Surveys indicate that of all the senses, people cherish their vision the most. Here are a few simple steps you can take if you are concerned about maintaining your vision and protecting your eyes.
Your eyes are a delicate and sensitive part of your body. Aging, pollution, excessive strain and sun exposure can weaken or damage them, or they may be at risk for long-term vision problems due to disease. In fact, right now, three out of four people suffer from a vision problem of some form. But you can take actions to keep that from happening.
Get Regular Eye Exams
Getting a regular eye exam is essential since early detection and treatment can make the difference between seeing and blindness. An eye doctor can detect problems before you even have any noticeable signs of vision impairment.
Stay Informed About Eye Diseases
Because most serious vision problems are caused by eye diseases – like age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and cataract – you need to be aware of what symptoms and signs to watch out for.
• Age-related macular degeneration is hardening of the arteries in the eye that cuts off oxygen and nutrient supply, resulting in damage to the central retina. This disease is the leading cause of all blindness and visual impairment in all Americans over the age of 50.
• Cataract is the clouding of the eye's lens and is the leading cause of low vision among Americans.
• Glaucoma is a disease that causes damage to the optic nerve that carries visual information from the eye to the brain. Because vision impairment is not apparent until a large amount of the nerve is damaged, half of the people with glaucoma don't even know that they have the disease until it's too late.
• Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes. In this disease, the blood vessels of the retina become blocked and damaged. Nearly half of all diabetics will develop some degree of this eye condition.
Exercising can help lower blood pressure, and therefore reduce the arterial pressure in the eye that can lead to retinal damage, especially for those with glaucoma and diabetes.
Studies also suggest that regular exercise can reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by up to 70%. Physical activity is known to reduce the type of inflammation and irregularities in the blood vessel walls associated with the wet form of the disease. In addition, people who lead an active lifestyle may be "biologically" younger than those who are sedentary, which may also reduce their risk of AMD because it is a disease associated with aging.
Wear Sunglasses and Protective Eyewear
UV rays can increase your risk of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, and can even cause sunburn of the cornea in a condition called photokeratitis. This condition can lead to temporary blindness.
Remember, the sun's ultraviolet or UV rays can be reflected off snow, sand, pavement, and water, so make wearing sunglasses a habit whenever you are outside. Choose sunglasses that provide 100% UV protection.
Eye injury is also a major cause of blindness or vision impairment. More than 1 million people experience eye injuries every year in the US, but up to 90% of those could have been prevented by protective eyewear. Wear goggles when: Working on household repair or improvement projects; using corrosive household or cleaning chemicals; working on a car; mowing, edging, or leaf-blowing the yard; playing sports such as racquetball.
Avoid Eye Fatigue
Computer use has become a fact of life, with many of us logging long hours in front of a computer screen each day. While the long-term effects are still unclear, some studies have linked routine and extended computer use with an increased risk for glaucoma and related eye diseases. But there’s no question that in the short-term, it causes eye strain, headaches, blurry vision, fatigue, dry eyes, dizziness and eye pain.
There are ways to reduce the strain on your eyes while working on the computer including:
• Don’t sit too close to the computer monitor
• Use an anti-glare screens or a glare filter to reduce glare, or change the monitor's angle away from a direct light source.
• Take frequent breaks to help rest the eyes and do exercises help strengthen your eye muscles and reduce blurry vision
• Use a larger monitor or increasing the font size of the documents you are viewing on the screen
Provide Your Eyes with Critical Nutrients
Getting essential vitamins and minerals is vital for good vision. Be sure to eat a balanced diet with plenty of foods high in carotenoids (carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, tomatoes), zinc (eggs, lean meats), selenium (nuts, seeds), antioxidants and lutein (avocadoes), and antioxidants in general.
But these are just a few of the nutrients involved in eye health. In fact, God has provided just under twenty different vitamins, minerals, herbs, extracts and other nutrients in His plant kingdom that are specifically designed to protect and defend our eyes against a variety of attacks.
Look for more information on these specialized nutrients in the upcoming article, A-Z of Eye Health.
While some are easier to incorporate into our diet, others are much more difficult to obtain through food alone. And getting enough of any of these nutrients on a daily basis can certainly be a challenge.You may want to add a supplement to your daily nutritional program that has been specifically formulated to protect your vision. Our Vision Support provides17 vitamins, minerals, herbs, extracts and other specialized nutrients that strengthen and support the eye.
Take these simple steps to protect your eyes, the windows that carry light into your bodies.
Dr. Reginald B. Cherry (drcherry.org) is a member of the American Medical Association, Texas Medical Association, Harris County Medical Society, and the American College of Preventive Medicine. Dr. Cherry has authored numerous articles on Preventive Medicine, emphasizing nutrition and exercise. He also speaks extensively on these topics nationwide and conducts numerous seminars for various groups and organizations. Currently, his weekly television program reaches 80 million homes. www.thepathwaytohealing.com